Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist says older drivers can stay safer for longer by reflecting on their driving, and by knowing where they can get expert safety advice.
The statement follows the release of figures from the DVLA showing that almost 22,500 elderly motorists had their licences revoked on medical grounds in 2018.
“Reaching a certain age does not automatically mean a complete loss of your ability to drive, judge distances and read road signs,” says GEM road safety officer Neil Worth. “Today two thirds of people aged 70 and over still hold a driving licence, compared with less than 40 per cent in the mid 1990s. The process of ageing is different for every single person. That’s why GEM is keen to encourage senior drivers to reflect on their own driving, to understand where they may be experiencing difficulty, and to know where to get practical advice.
“Traditional popular opinion might suggest that older drivers are a menace and should undergo mandatory re-tests – or be purged from the highway. However, we want to encourage senior drivers to stay mobile, while also ensuring they remain physically and mentally comfortable with the driving task.
“Self-reflection starts with an acceptance that we’re all more vulnerable on the road than we think we are,” concludes Neil Worth. “It includes a willingness to recognise the situations that may lead to increased risk, and to ask where, when and why they occur. Learning from those situations, perhaps with some expert help, is a good way for a senior driver to stay as safe as possible for as long as possible.”
GEM’s ‘Still Safe to Drive’ resource (www.stillsafetodrive.org.uk) offers a line-up of informative videos, presented by Valerie Singleton OBE. There are links to many organisations who offer specific assistance for senior drivers, as well as the following key tips for staying safe behind the wheel:
- Get fit and stay fit. If possible, do some exercise for 15 to 20 minutes each day.
- Get a regular eye test. This allows early detection of possible problems.
- Get a driver MOT, such as GEM’s driver assessment. It’s an enjoyable way of updating your skills.
- Make sure the car you drive best suits your current needs.
- Adapt your driving to avoid journeys that cause you stress or discomfort.
- Reflect on your driving, learn from your mistakes and near misses. Don’t pretend they’re not happening.
- Plan your journeys to avoid using the roads at really busy times, and build in plenty of breaks on longer journeys.